The 2020 Sharjah International Book Fair will go ahead with restrictions

The annual fair is the biggest publishing event in the region

Omanis visiting the 38th Sharjah International Book Fair edition at Expo Centre Sharjah, offering more than 1.6 million titles to publishers as well as eager readers of all ages.

(Photo: Reem Mohammed/The National)

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The Sharjah International Book Fair will go ahead this November with stringent safety measures in place, say the event's organisers.

The news comes with the announcement that the annual literary gathering, scheduled to take place from November 4 to 14, at the Sharjah Expo Centre, has already sold all of its exhibitor space. The list of guest authors attending the fair will be revealed later in the year.

Such a reception points to the regional and international publishing industry beginning to bounce back after the pandemic led to a slew of book fairs being cancelled, including London's, Paris's and Abu Dhabi's.

“It is heartening to receive such strong industry support even in these challenging times, which drives us to host an exceptional edition this year to continue benefiting both the reader as well as local, regional and global publishing markets,” said Sharjah Book Authority chairman Ahmed Al Ameri in a statement.

“We are committed to employing the highest international health and safety standards on the exhibition site, and will have detailed preventative protocols in place to ensure the safety of participants and visitors during the book fair.”

With the Sharjah event the biggest in the region in terms of attendance – more than two million people attended last year’s festival over its 10 days – Al Ameri said the professional stream of programming for this year’s fair will address the business challenges the industry has faced because of the pandemic.

“This year, the fair will shine a strong spotlight on ways publishers can collaborate to successfully navigate the challenges posed to their businesses, complete projects stalled due to Covid-19, and continue operating profitably in the fast-changing market landscape,” he said.

Sharjah joins Frankfurt in making book fairs safe from Covid-19

The decision for Sharjah International Book Fair to run this year comes after an announcement in May that its Frankfurt counterpart would also still go ahead, from Wednesday to Sunday, October 14 to 18.

The Frankfurt Book Fair, the largest of its kind in the world, will adopt a hybrid model of digital and physical events this year.

Those attending in person should expect a redesigned floor plan, with the fair presently consulting with health authorities to ensure the safety of delegates and the public.

When it comes to the major stages, typically home to high-profile keynote sessions with hundreds in attendance, the fair plans to migrate some events online or conduct them indoors with safety precautions in place.

The Sheikh Zayed Book Award, run by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, told The National recently that it will participate in the Frankfurt Book Fair's digital events programme.

In a previous interview with The National, Al Ameri said a decision on the Sharjah Book Authority's participation in Frankfurt will be made in the near future.

More information on the Sharjah International Book Fair is at